Moving in the authority of Jesus
The church of Jesus is called to wage war! The church is an army on the offensive against evil spiritual powers.[Ezek 37:10] [Eph 6:11] [Matt 16:18] In the Jesus Fellowship, we have responded to this call to battle by taking on a "Jesus Army" identity and seeking, through prayer and outreach, to campaign vigorously against evil in order to save souls and advance the victorious cause of Jesus.
The devil was originally an important angel, but he rebelled against God, taking with him many angels who became, it seems, what the New Testament calls demons. [Is 14:12-15] [Rev 12:4,7-9] The devil deceived and overpowered humanity, [Gen 3:13] [Rev 12:9] [2 Cor 4:4] but Jesus came to destroy the devil's work [1 John 3:8] -- the Kingdom that He announced was an offensive movement against the devil, and his demon followers. Delivering people from the grip of demons was a key part of Jesus' ministry [Matt 12:28] and He achieved the ultimate victory over Satan through His death on the cross. [Col 2:15] [Heb 2:14]
It is the task of His people to demonstrate and apply this victory to evil powers. [Eph 3:10] God has given Jesus the highest authority [Phil 2:9] -- yet now Jesus rules through His people as the great head of the church. [Eph 1:22] We bring His enemies to His feet. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb. [Psalm 110:1,2] [Rev 12:11]
So we bring evil into submission to Christ's authority. We cast out demons.[Mark 16:17] We release people. [Is 61:1] We bind up evil influence and release good. [Matt 18:19] As the Jesus Army we have found this to be our real experience. As we have bound evil powers in a certain area, we have known corresponding breakthroughs in evangelism; individuals have been freed from demons which kept them enslaved to addictions, compulsive behaviour, sickness and sin. And we've been aware of angels helping us in the battle. [Heb 1:14]
Demons seek to occupy bodies through which they can perform their destructive acts -- and it seems they are not too fussy as to the bodies they inhabit! [Mark 5:12] They also seek to affect people's minds so as to bring about further evil behaviour. It is helpful to distinguish five basic stages of demonic activity:
Suggestion. Passing demonic activity of the kind that causes someone to become passive and forget something important or be distracted in a meeting. Though such demonic activity is temporary, it can have serious lasting results -- such as road accidents, for instance.
Depression. A sense of negativity or hopelessness (the opposite of faith) which can lead to the next stage.
Oppression. This can include various sicknesses and similar afflictions of body and mind. When demons take hold of the mind, it can lead to the fourth stage.
Obsession. This is when an evil spirit begins to seriously affect the personality.
Possession. This is when people by wilful habit or choice submit themselves to evil powers and are controlled by them.
The New Testament does not spell out these stages as such but it is useful for us to have some idea of the possible progression of demonic activity in a person. The initial stages are basically "exterior" (that is, the demon influence from outside) and the latter stages are basically "interior" (that is when the demon has, to an increasing extent, gained entry to the personality). The more serious stages of demonization do not often occur without there having been specific, deliberate sin or involvement with the occult.
We have power, through Jesus' victory, over all types of demonic activity.
Bringing deliverance to people
We have certain key "weapons" [2 Cor 6:7] [2 Cor 10:4] which we use for praying with people to free them from demons: The blood of Christ removes the guilt of sin which is essentially what demons latch onto in a person. Command demons to leave by the power of the blood. [Rev 1:5] [Rev 12:11] God has given all authority to the name of Jesus and Christians are baptised into this name [Matt 28:18,19] [Acts 19:5] -- we carry delegated authority. Bind demons [Matt 12:29] and tell them to leave in Jesus' name with an authoritative command. [Acts 16:8] Don't "barter" with demons -- order them to leave straight away: they must obey! Remind demons that they are defeated foes! After a person has been delivered, pray for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit -- a person left "empty" can end up worse off [Luke 11:24-26] but the Spirit brings permanent wholeness to a soul.
It is a key principle in ministering deliverance to people that demons should not be allowed to make lots of noise and cause trouble. Nor should we converse with these deceitful spirits. They should leave quickly and quietly. Deliverance must not become a sideshow. [Luke 4:35][Mark 9:25] It is important to reassure the person who you are praying with and also that you gain their wilful resistance to the spirits that afflict them -- repentance is often a key to deliverance. People ought to be taught how to live in self-deliverance,"walking in the Spirit" [Romans 8:6] [Gal 5:16] and actively resisting further demonic intrusion into their life. [James 4:7]
Now is the time for the church to set people free, advance the Kingdom and glorify Jesus the King!